The first typhoon to threaten China this year churned toward the southern island province of Hainan on Friday, forcing about 120,000 people to evacuate fish farms and low-lying areas, forecasters and media said. Fifty-six fishermen were reported missing.
Typhoon Neoguri was expected to sweep over Hainan’s northeastern coast on Friday night or early Saturday, lashing the city of Wanning or Wenchang, the nation’s meteorological observatory said.
The last time a typhoon threatened China so early in the season was before 1949, Chen Lei, a flood relief official, was quoted as saying by the state-run Xinhua News Agency.
Neoguri, which means “raccoon” in Korean, was packing winds of up to 120 kilometers (75 miles) per hour as it swirled across the South Sea and approached Hainan, famous for its resorts, beaches and tropical fruit orchards, forecasters said.
About 21,800 fishing boats with 80,000 crew sought shelter in ports or reefs in Hainan, and 20,000 more sailed to safer waters in nearby Guangdong province, Xinhua said. But 56 fishermen who were waiting out the storm in a reef area near Hainan were missing, and rescue crews were searching for them, Xinhua said.
Strong gales caused the cancellation of ferries across the Qiongzhou Strait between Hainan and Guangdong early Friday, the agency reported.
About 120,000 people fled fish farms and low-lying areas in Hainan, Xinhua said. Officials urged people in the southern provinces of Fujian and Guangxi to also prepare for the typhoon, expected to dump 100 millimeters (four inches) to 150 millimeters (six inches) of rain.
China was planning to hold the country’s first Ironman triathlon Sunday in Haikou. Organisers weren’t ready to cancel the race but they were considering postponing it until later in the day. (AP)
Typhoon Neoguri threatens China’s southern Island